SPRINGFIELD – Your garden may be slumbering, but that doesn’t mean the end of seasonal eating. There’s still plenty of fresh, local foods available, and to highlight this bounty the Deerfield based nonprofit Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) will bring it’s annual Winter Fare event to the Farmers Market at Forest Park on Jan. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We will be there doing food demonstrations and sampling as a way to bring some extra fun about seasonal eating to the market,” Claire Morenon, Winter Fare program coordinator for CISA, said. “We have a great volunteer who does the cooking.”
The goal, Morenon said, is to promote the many locally produced foods that are still available at farmers’ markets during the winter through creative and interesting recipes.
“Last year we made a beet salad and a winter squash savory pie,” she recalled. “It’s always fun to chat with the people who are coming through [and] they often stand around trading recipe ideas.”
Forest Park Market Manager Belle-Rita Novak said this year’s indoor winter market is one of the biggest, with about 20 vendors displaying their goods in the park’s old monkey house on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. Shoppers are treated to selections of locally grown apples, pears and root vegetables as well as fresh fish and local meat products, honey, jams and pickles, cider products, wines, hydroponically grown vegetables, fresh baked goods and more.
Novak said she’s seen an uptick in shoppers seeking out goods at bi-monthly winter market this season.
“There’s much more attention being given to the value of buying locally grown and produced foods, and that helps,” she noted, adding that shopping local not only guarantees a fresher product, it also helps support the local economy. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Novak said the popular SNAP and Save match program – which allowed shoppers using an EBT card at the market to get an extra $5 worth of product with the purchase of $5 or more in shopping tokens during the summer – has been extended for the winter market. Morenon said during the Winter Fare event on Jan. 23, SNAP & Save would be increased to an extra $10 for a $10 EBT card purchase.
The Winter Farmers Market at Forest Park will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second and fourth Saturday of the month through April. The market returns to its outdoor location near the Cyr Ice Arena on the first Tuesday in May.
To reach the winter market, “people should come in the back [park] entrance off Trafton Road,” Novak said. “The monkey house where we are having the market is right there, and there is parking available.”
The Trafton Road entrance to Forest Park is located off of Dickinson Street, at the X in Springfield.